I became a fan of Gaiman's when I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It is a most unusual tale, a cross between a delightful faerie tale and a Grimm Brothers' nightmare. I loved it and reviewed that book in an earlier blog. Since reading that first book, I've sought out and read various books by Gaiman. Each one, so far, has been different than the others, but I've liked them all. I do have a thing for first loves, though, so my heart pulls most towards The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
Most recently, though, I became enamored with Gaiman's novel Stardust. It's a delightful romp in a magical forest. It's about bringing together all the things that make fantasy fiction so much fun for me. There's lovely maidens, evil plots, handsome heroes, magical kingdoms, witches, faeries, ghosts, falling stars, magic spells, flying ships, unicorns, and...well,...love. What's a good story without that? Oh, you can have a good story without it, don't get me wrong, but it isn't usually the kind of story that leaves you with a big, goofy grin on your face.
There is a part of me that would like to compare Stardust to William Goldman's The Princess Bride, but that's difficult for me to do because that particular book and movie have been near and dear to my heart for a very long time. I am a bit biased. Stardust does, however, glimmer with the same kind of magic, wit, fun, and good storytelling that is appealing in The Princess Bride. And, like The Princess Bride, Stardust was also made into a movie.
OK, OK,...wait. My brain keeps repeating how I actually DO compare The Princess Bride to Stardust, but I didn't want to write it...just in case it might dissuade you from reading Stardust (and I do think you should read it). Oh, I'm going to go ahead and write it, anyway...
Stardust is like the plain cousin of The Princess Bride. Not unattractive, but attractive in a different way. She's less complex, much shorter, a bit naughty, and not quite as witty, but she's a fun date and can dance a jig as well as most. Best of all, she will leave you with a warm smile at the end of the evening and, while she'll never be her cousin, she is worthy in her own right and deserves to be courted.
There. I said it.
Now, if you want a real book lovers' treat, you should buy the book with illustrations by Charles Vess. I ordered mine after I'd read the book on my Kindle. Once I read it, I knew this was a book I would read again and wanted to own (yes, I'm one of those kind of people). When I looked it up on Amazon and saw there was an option to get the illustrated version, I was thrilled! The pictures remind me of the kind I used to see in old faerie tale books when I was a little girl. They are really lovely and a bit scary - just as any good, illustrated fantasy book should be. :)
So, do yourself a favor and read Stardust. After that, watch the movie. Then read The Princess Bride and watch that movie again (It is 'again,' isn't it? Surely, you've watched it?). You will enjoy both, but you'll understand what I mean. Both are lovely flights of fancy, one is just a little fancier than the other. :)
Happy reading (and movie watching)!!